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Frequently Asked Questions – Juvenile Defense

Below you will find answers to many of the questions you may have about participating in the Juvenile Defense Clinic.


Who is eligible to participate in the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
The clinic is open to both second and third-year students. However, 3L students participate in the clinic for five total credit hours as student attorneys certified under Rule XX, the Louisiana Supreme Court’s student practice rule. As a result, 3L students must have have completed Legal Professions (Law 5721) prior to taking the clinic. The clinic is also open to 2L students, who take the clinic for four total credit hours. Second year students cannot serve as Rule XX-certified student attorneys and, therefore, do not have to take Legal Professions as a prerequisite for enrolling in the clinic. Students may only participate in one clinic or field placement per semester, and second-year students who take the clinic may not retake it as 3Ls. Students must enroll in both LAW 5858 Juvenile Defense Clinic Practicum and LAW 5624 Juvenile Defense Clinic Course for a total of five credit hours (3Ls) or four credit hours (2Ls). Students may only participate in one clinic or field placement per semester and second-year students who take the clinic may not retake it as 3Ls.

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What is the application process for the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
Students wishing to enroll in the Juvenile Defense Clinic must apply through the common application process for all clinics and field placements. In the joint application, students will be asked to rank their clinic and field placement preferences, provide a resumé and answer questions regarding relevant experiences and interests in their selections. The online application form will be made available on the website once the application period opens. Please note that this weeklong application period begins and ends several weeks prior to the registration period for all other classes (late February/early March for Fall semester enrollment and late September/early October for Spring semester enrollment). As a result, interested students should plan ahead and keep an eye out for emails and announcements regarding the Clinics & Field placements application period each semester. A phone or in-person interview may be required depending on the number of applicants.

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What is the student selection criteria for the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
Although the high level of interest generally necessitates a competitive selection process, there is no set criteria for a successful candidate other than a demonstrated commitment to hard work and professionalism. In fact, clinic faculty make a concerted effort to select students with diverse experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and interests in order to create a rich learning experience for all participants. In the past, students with interests or experiences in juvenile justice, criminal defense and prosecution have been selected along with students interested in corporate litigation, transactional law or policy work. Students with a strong interest in public interest legal careers or prior experience working with children are encouraged to apply.

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How many students can enroll in the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
The clinic accepts a maximum of eight students each semester.

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How many hours must student attorneys devote to the Juvenile Defense Clinic for the semester?
Student attorneys (3Ls) are required to devote a minimum of 150 hours to the clinic’s three-credit practicum component over the course of the semester. Second-year students are required to devote a minimum of 100 hours to their two-credit practicum component. These hours include all field work, trial preparation and other activities related to casework and client representation. However, student attorneys remain obligated to their clients and cases throughout the entire semester even if the individual circumstances of a case require work beyond the minimum hours due to the special ethical and professional obligations arising from client representation. Furthermore, the clinic’s two-credit course component has been designed to engage students for an additional 100 hours throughout the semester. In order to track time spent on clinic activity, student attorneys are expected to submit weekly written time sheets.

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Are there any special scheduling requirements for the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
Students participating in the clinic must devote a significant amount of time to the course outside of the regularly scheduled class time of Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Students must meet with their supervising attorneys weekly for mandatory one-on-one supervision meetings, perform court observation hours, and make several court appearances throughout the semester in addition to attending a mandatory two-day orientation prior to the start of the semester. Student attorneys are not required to set aside any particular day or block of time in their schedule for clinic activities beyond the regularly scheduled class times due to the flexible nature of case assignment and scheduling for the clinic. However, students should plan to set aside at least one morning or afternoon Monday through Thursday for court appearances. Students who are able to set aside one additional morning or afternoon Monday through Thursday are encouraged to do so. Despite these significant time demands, past students have been able to participate successfully in the clinic even while maintaining outside employment and significant extracurricular responsibilities through commitment and effective time management.

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Are there any special costs associated with taking the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
The clinic provides student attorneys with the litigation resources needed to engage in client representation such as routine office supplies. However, student attorneys are responsible for their own travel to and from court and other necessary field work. The clinic cannot reimburse students for any mileage or fuel costs, but encourages students to economize through the use of carpooling and the efficient planning of clinic-related trips.

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What is expressed interest representation?
State and national practice standards recognize that juvenile defenders have an ethical and professional duty to represent the expressed interests of their juvenile clients. This means that “[a]t each stage of the case, juvenile defense counsel acts as the client’s voice in the proceedings, advocating for the client’s expressed interests, not the client’s ‘best interest’ as determined by counsel, the client’s parents or guardian, the probation officer, the prosecutor, or the judge. With respect to the duty of loyalty owed to the client, the juvenile delinquency attorney-client relationship mirrors the adult criminal attorney-client relationship.” NJDC’s Role of Juvenile Defense Counsel in Delinquency Court. The clinic takes the duty  of expressed interest representation seriously and adheres to a philosophy of client-centered representation. As a result, student attorneys must advocate for their client’s expressed interests regarding the objectives of representation regardless of whether the student personally believes the decision is in the best interest of the juvenile.

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What type of cases will I work on as a student attorney in the Juvenile Defense Clinic?
The clinic takes cases involving a range of charges including violent felonies, weapons offenses and some sex offenses. Cases are selected on the basis of their pedagogical value as measured by the richness of the factual and legal issues presented for litigation. Students interested in participating in the Juvenile Defense Clinic should be comfortable zealously representing the expressed interests of juveniles facing serious charges as cases are assigned as they arise without regard for student preference. Student attorneys are typically assigned one to four cases involving one or two clients during the semester depending on the nature and complexity of the cases assigned.

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What are the role and responsibilities of Juvenile Defense Clinic students?
Student attorneys serve in the role of “first chair” attorney on their assigned cases and are responsible for all aspects of client representation, including but not limited to client interviewing and counseling, legal research, factual investigation, motions practice, representation of clients at every stage of a delinquency proceedings, collateral advocacy and case file management and documentation. Second-year students assist with all aspects of representation but are not able to appear on behalf of clients in court because the Supreme Court’s student practice rule is limited to third-year students. All students also serve as investigators for their fellow students’ cases. Students may also have opportunities as they arise throughout the semester to participate in writs and appeals as well as on projects, policy initiatives and impact litigation relevant to juvenile justice reform.

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How can I get answers to additional questions I have about the clinic?
You can contact Professor Jack Harrison directly with questions at jharr62@gmail.com.

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